Recommended level: Upper intermediate / Advanced
This resource can be used for English listening or reading comprehension practice, or both. The choice is yours. You can find the vocabulary list, comprehension questions, and discussion questions at the bottom of this resource. If you are a teacher using this text in a classroom, pre-teaching the vocabulary is recommended. Now, on to the text...
Listening and Reading Text
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a surprising movie. Based on the history of animated sequels, and movie sequels in general, DreamWorks could have simply capitalized on brand recognition, released an average feel-good family movie, and called it a day. But they have done much, much more than that with The Last Wish; indeed, they have crafted a film that can stand alongside the best animated feature films from the past decade.
And in the eyes of this reviewer, above most of them.
At its core, this is a movie about facing one's mortality and deciding what to do with the knowledge that one day, one must die. The Last Wish treats this universal subject with care, seriousness, and nuance--not to mention some wonderful comedy. In the movie, Puss, our heroic feline protagonist, has used eight of his nine lives. We see all eight deaths in a humorous sequence, and we learn that Puss has often been careless with his life, relying on pride, arrogance, and bravado to create the image of a legend in the hearts and minds of those he comes across.
However, when Puss is faced with the knowledge that he only has one life left, his demeanor and behaviour change, and the audience is taken on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery. The majority of the movie follows Puss and his crew, as well as a small group of famous fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters, while they race towards a mythical wishing star. By capturing the star, Puss hopes to push death further away from him, and to regain all nine of his lives.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has plenty of thrilling action and laughter, but it is also full of struggle and doubt. In short, there is an emotional complexity that many films lack. If this sounds surprising to you, it was surprising to me, too! I enjoyed the first Puss in Boots movie, but this one is on another level and is superior to the original in every way. From the relatable themes and characters, to the captivating visuals, including brilliant editing and multiple animation styles during action sequences, this is a movie you won't soon forget. Personally, I'm dying to see it again.
Oh, and don't forget to bring some tissues.
sequel (n.) - a movie, book, or play that continues the story of a previous movie, book, or play
"What was the sequel to Jurassic Park called again?"
capitalize (v.) - to gain an advantage from something; to use something for one's benefit
"We need to capitalize on this opportunity. Who knows when we'll get a chance like this again?"
brand recognition (n.) - the degree to which someone can recognize a particular brand when they see the logo, characters, etc., or hear the name of that particular brand
"McDonald's doesn't need to work on its brand recognition. Everyone already knows who they are."
feel-good (adj.) - causing positive feelings (usually comes before a noun, as in "a feel-good comedy," "a feel-good story," "a feel-good movie.")
"There aren't enough feel-good stories on the news."
call it a day (expression) - to decide to end a period of activity (usually said at the end of a work day)
"It's 5 o'clock. Let's call it a day."
stand alongside (verbal phrase) - to stand beside someone or something else (usually referring to standing equally beside someone or something)
"The second book was good, but I don't think the third one is good enough to stand alongside the first two."
a decade (n.) - a period of ten years
"We haven't talked to each other in over a decade."
core (n.) - the centre or generally defining aspect of something or someone (synonym: "the heart of something or someone")
"The core of the issue is that the company is running out of money faster than it's making it."
mortality (n.) - relating to the state of or being subject to death
"Humans must all accept their own mortality."
nuance (n.) - complexity; a subtle difference in something
"He doesn't speak with a lot of nuance. He's very rough and direct."
come across (phrasal verb) - to meet, find, or see someone or something by chance
"I came across your company's job advertisement online."
crew (n.) - a group; a team (often used to refer to a ship captain and their crew)
"She doesn't work alone. She always works with a crew of people."
fairy tale (n.) - a story with magical beings which takes place in a magical land (also called "the land of Fairy/Faery/Fairie" in some stories and sources)
"That's not true. It's just a fairy tale."
nursery rhyme (n.) - a simple song or rhyme for children
"Have you heard this one? Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas pie. He put in his thumb, and pulled out a plumb, and said 'What a good boy am I!'"
lack (v. or n.) - to be without; to be missing something
"He's not a good boss because he lacks patience." / "...because he has a lack of patience."
relatable (adj.) - something or someone which causes someone to feel a relation to something or someone
"I didn't like that movie because it wasn't very relatable. I couldn't connect to anything in the story."
captivating (adj.) - able to capture and keep one's attention or interest
"To be an successful politician, you need to be a captivating public speaker."
1. Why is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish a surprising movie?
a) Because it isn't a simple feel-good family movie.
b) Because it is a simple feel-good family movie.
c) Because it capitalized on brand recognition.
d) Because it's a bad sequel.
2. According to the reviewer, how does the movie compare to animated films of the past decade?
a) It's not as good as them.
b) It's as good as them.
c) It's better than most of them.
d) It's worse than most of them.
3. What is the movie about?
4. Which of these characteristics do not describe Puss at the start of the movie?
5. Complete the sentence: "...the audience is taken on an exhilarating journey of self-_____."
6. Why does Puss want to find the wishing star?
a) To become immortal.
b) To regain his nine lives.
c) To bring back his dead friends.
d) To reverse time.
7. According to the reviewer, what do many films lack?
a) Interesting stories.
b) Relatable characters.
c) Relatable themes.
d) Emotional complexity.
8. Why does the reviewer say "Oh, and don't forget to bring some tissues" at the end of the review?
a) Because the movie will make you laugh.
b) Because the movie will make you sick.
c) Because the movie will make you cry.
d) Because the movie will make you sweat.
If you had nine lives, do you think you would approach life differently?
In your opinion, what makes for a good life? (Another way to think of this question is "What do people need or need to do to have a good life?")
What's on your bucket list? (a list of things you would like to do before you "kick the bucket," which means "die,"/"pass away.")
Has a movie ever made you cry?
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